Cover shows a UN staff member helping to place a protective face mask on a young girl
September 2020

United Nations Comprehensive Response to COVID-19 Saving Lives, Protecting Societies, Recovering Better (Updated)

Over the course of 2020, the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, infected millions of people, upended the global economy and cast a dark shadow across our future. No country has been spared. No population group remains unscathed. Nobody is immune to its impacts.

From the outset of the pandemic, the United Nations system mobilized early and comprehensively. It led on the global health response, provided life-saving humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable, established instruments for rapid responses to the socio-economic impact and laid out a broad policy agenda for action on all fronts. It also provided logistics, common services and operational support to governments and other partners around the world on the front lines of the pandemic, as they mounted national responses to this new virus and unprecedented global challenge.

Now, six months since the pandemic was declared, we issue this updated, comprehensive overview of the UN system response. The overview recounts our key guidance, lessons and support in the first six months of the pandemic – and points the way to the crucial steps that must follow to save lives, protect societies and recover better, leaving no one behind and addressing the very fragilities and gaps that made us so vulnerable in the first place. It also points the way toward addressing future shocks – above all from climate change – and toward overcoming the severe and systemic inequalities that have been so tragically exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic.

This report provides an update to the first edition of the report released on 25 June.